SHARM EL-SHEIK, Egypt – As the golf cart swerved into view from around a corner and behind palm trees at the outset of two days of Middle East peacemaking it became clear: President Bush, grinning widely, was in the drivers seat.
Taking the wheel of the large cart, Bush ferried the five Arab leaders he had come here to cajole into supporting his peace agenda to their picturesque seaside photo opportunity. There, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (search) delivered a statement on the Arab leaders' behalf pledging to fight terror, embrace an internationally crafted peace plan and support a new Bush-backed Palestinian leader.
They arrived a jovial group, Bush and Mubarak glad-handing the rest and a multitude of aides thronging the leaders-only cart.
Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah (search) and Mubarak had donned sunglasses against the glaring Red Sea sun. Abdullah and Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa chose traditional Arab robes over the dark suits of their counterparts.
New Palestinian prime minister Mahmoud Abbas (search) -- the man whose profile Bush most wanted to boost with his personal foray into peace talks and the stated support of other Arab leaders -- stayed close by the U.S. president's side.
The experience was no doubt a thrill for Bush, who doesn't get to drive vehicles of any sort very often. He is said to relish being able to take his pickup truck for spins around his 1,600-acre Texas ranch when he retreats there from the much more restrictive confines of the White House.
However spontaneous, the cart ride also served to reinforce the impression of a Bush White House extraordinarily skilled at stage-managing presidential events.